Ananda Marga Gurukula celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a global conference held at Prama Institute in Asheville, NC, USA from July 11-16th. The theme of the celebration was Neohumanism in Action: Educating for a Sustainable and Compassionate Future. The Conference was well attended by educators, researchers and neohumanist activists from around the world spanning twenty countries. Kevala Monteiro attended from Brazil and had this to say:
Opening a Big Window – By Kevala Monteiro
Between 11 to 16 of July 2015 we had a Gurukula Conference at Prama Institute, in Asheville and, I had the pleasure to be there. We had very intense days, with a very tight schedule full of lots of important insights and experiences which gave me a lot to think about regarding the shape of Neohumanist Education, the feeling of Neohumanism, and our future.
An atmosphere of welcome, friendship and compassion was at the conference from the beginning and continued in this manner for all the days. There were so many things to experience: a mixture of different ages, with different realities, experiences, and different interests. I was learning so much about other places, like what is happening in US, Egypt, Africa, Holland, Taiwan, Australia, etc. It was clear that there were so many possibilities before us with so much going on around the world. This work was based on diversity, love, and hope that better days will come.
In my personal life I have had profound growth times and I could feel that this conference was an integral part of this growth. I had at times a strong feeling that I had experienced this before; some scenes were not so strange to me. It was something out of the ordinary! So it made me realise that we are all connected, and that I was meant to be there.
On the way back home I was bringing a heavy bag of books, many beautiful people in my heart, some responsibilities, and the strength to do something new. I was also bringing with me the charming smiles, the beautiful kiirtans and beautiful sharing we all had there.
We may feel after the Conference that the globe is vibrating, increasing the possibilities and that the windows are open!
Public Programs held on Saturday, JULY 11TH in Asheville
Revolutions in Learning: Education for a Compassionate and Liveable Future
This half day program was held at Ferguson Hall at Asheville Buncombe Community College and featured three NHE speakers.
Dr. Kathleen Kesson is professor of Teaching, Learning and Leadership at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY, co-author of Curriculum Wisdom: Educational Decisions in Democratic Societies and Understanding Democratic Curriculum Leadership, and co-editor of Defending Public Schools: Teaching for a Democratic Society. In “Personalizing Learning for a World in Transition”, she proposed “personalized learning” where students to design collaborative experiences with community mentors, creating “flexible pathways” to high school graduation.
Dr. Marcus Bussey is lecturer in Futures and History at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, and co-author of Futures Thinking for Social Foresight and Neohumanist Educational Futures: Liberating the Pedagogical Intellect. In “It Is All About Us: Cultural/Educational Change for a Livable Future”, he supported both educational and cultural change to create “the heart and head spaces that will enable both our communities and our civilization to establish preferable and livable pathways to our many futures.”
Acharya Ananda Devapriya is director of Gradinita Rasarit Kindergarten, Fountain of Hope After-School Center, Vistara Transitional Program for Youth, Amurtel Ecological Garden, and Morning Star Holistic Wellness Center in Romania. She shared neohumanist educational practices used in the “We All Have a Story” project for personal narratives that break down social barriers, increasing empathy and respect for diversity. Didi is now training 100 kindergarten teachers in Bucharest, Romania.
Local educators, co-moderated the presentations. Dr. Basil Savitsky focuses on positive youth development and methods to support adolescent rites of passage into meaningful adulthood. He is currently developing a gaming front-end to a set of social-emotional learning activities for early college students to be “future-ready” as global citizens and members of the 21st century workforce. Megan McCarter is Director of Programs at Odyssey Community School, a PreK-12 Integral Model school. She creates curriculum and professional development courses using Compassionate Communication, Restorative Justice, and Design-Thinking to facilitate a learning community of brave kindness, authenticity, and positive change through connecting consciousness and creativity.
The End of Unemployment
Dr. Ravi Batra spoke to an international audience at the Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville on “End Unemployment Now”, and signed his new books by that title.
The year 2010 marked when the National Bureau of Economic Research declared an end to the Great Recession. The economy had shed over six million jobs in 2008 and 2009, but few had been recalled to work by 2010. Today, government policies have yet to make a significant dent in unemployment. In his book, “End Unemployment Now”, Ravi Batra explores why this is the case. He explains how joblessness can be completely eliminated–in just two years, and without the help of our painfully incompetent Congress. The President and the Federal Reserve have the legal authority to generate free-market conditions that will quickly end the specter of unemployment, all without involving Congress.
Welcome – by Dada Shambhushivananda
The program opened with a collective singing of the beautiful Gurukula song which expresses the ethos of AMGK. Dada Shambushivananda, Chancellor of AMGK, warmly welcomed everyone. After sharing a little bit about the history of AMGK, he thanked all the people who have dedicated their time or life to help develop Gurukul with especial thanks to Sid Jordan, the president of AMGK Inc., for his work in the development of an AMGK Campus in Asheville – presenting him with flowers and a homemade apple pie.
Ámrá gaŕe’ nobo gurukul;
Jiṋáner áloke ráuṋiye dobo pratit́i kuṋŕi phul.
Keha ná thákibe dúre, vájába pratit́i táre;
Báṋdhiba priitiri d́ore e mańiháre atul.
Keha ná thákibe piche, t́heli ná káreo niice;
Sabe átmiiya viráje manomájhe dodul dul.
We will establish the Gurukul.
We will dye each and every bud with the light of knowledge.
No one will stay away.
We will bind everybody with the thread of love and create
a garland of incomparable beauty.
No one will stay behind; none will be thrown at the bottom.
All will exist with kith and kin
with their minds full of sweetness and tenderness for all.
Setting Our Course – Dr. Marcus Bussey and Dr. Sid Jordan
In the words of Livus Lundkvist, from Sweden, “The opening program was a beautiful, very lively and organic workshop led by Dr. Marcus Bussey and Dr. Sid Jordan, where everyone communicated, danced and moved around creating a very intuitive movement together as one. Everyone seemed to open up more, become more creative and inspired. The exercises provided a means for getting deeper in touch with each other and with Gurukul and its meaning and purpose. This was concretely expressed greatly when small groups were formed and everyone found words to describe Gurukul. Aligning passion with purpose, a guided meditation/visualization led to a letter from the heart. What does your heart tell you?” The inspiration of the morning and the words describing our experiences and feelings surrounding gurukul was used to create a Gurukul Poem as well as a beautiful human sculpture.” :
(Created by Participants as part of Opening Morning)Love to give love, light and hope
Love is all there is
Gurukula provides awakening,
True Divine love, hope to all
Moving together, liberating all
Learning universal love for allTrue liberation or freedom is the
Liberation of the mind, not just our own but for all of us
Awakening Universal love
Spirituality, love in ideal community
I looked in the Mirror, I saw the learner
I looked in the learner, I saw the teacherBuilding an inclusive, spiritually based society
Through expansion of spirit, mind and body
Heart song guides us towards a new way
It all comes down to developing and expanding
To growth and flow of where love goes
We don’t know who we are
Until we become who we can be
Imagining oneness beyond our imagination
Loving all that is, Transforming 2 love
Mind expands to highest level beyond itself
Providing opportunity for ecological transformation
With love and wellbeing on all levels
The words in this space, All around up and down,
Fleeting flying swirling
I grasp and I grasp to realise thee
Samgacchadvam towards sadvipra samaja
Moving together as one
We will live and liberate all beings
As we become a universal blissful family
Samgacchadvam – Society aided by Gurukula
Gurukula a universal movement about of love
Founded on ethical principles and spiritual connectedness
Providing an equalising playing field
To uplift humanism physical, emotionally and spiritually
Finding unity in diversity
Big and necessary work to do in the world
Thinking about how it is important
The relationship with one another
Devotion in action
Love, love, love connecting all
In a universal family
We are all love – Love
Sharing love and compassion
Growing a world community based on light and love
Nobody and nothing left behind
Devotional intuitional research into the inner recesses
Of the human mind
Music as linking power to higher aspects of intuitional knowledge
PR Sarkar Institute – By Tom Barefoot
Tom Barefoot talked about the works of P. R. Sarkar and the P.R. Sarkar Institute which was recently inaugurated by Ananda Marga Gurukula. A movie was shared showing the great scope of his work and compassion. P.R. Sarkar has given many innovative ideas and the Archive Department has been working for years to preserve his works and ideas for the future generations. The PR Sarkar Institute can help to spread these ideas so that we can all participate in a sustainable future of wellbeing and happiness for people and the planet.
Cooperative Games – by Ed Glassman
Succeeding mornings began with fun cooperative games, followed by a cornucopia of presentations on topics from different faculties of Ananda Marga Gurukula.